MoMA ac­quires orig­i­nal emo­jis

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

Back in the day, be­fore cars could drive them­selves and phones could send stick­ers and an­i­ma­tions, a Ja­panese phone com­pany re­leased a set of 176 emo­jis.

The year was 1999 and the tiny 12-by-12 pixel de­signs — smi­ley faces, hearts of the in­tact and bro­ken va­ri­ety, cats, and so on— were mainly pop­u­lar in Ja­pan. In 2010, Uni­code Con­sor­tium, which now con­trols emoji stan­dards, trans­lated the emoji into the Uni­code stan­dard, which means that a per­son in France, for ex­am­ple, can send an emoji to a per­son in the United States and it will look the same, no mat­ter what brand of phone or op­er­at­ing sys­tem they use.

New York’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art said on Wed­nes­day that it has ac­quired the orig­i­nal set of 176 emo­jis. They were a gift to the mu­seum from the phone com­pany, Nip­pon Tele­graph and Tele­phone.

“From the start (in 1929!), part of MoMA’s mis­sion has been to dis­play and col­lect the art (and de­sign) of our time,” Paola An­tonelli, se­nior cu­ra­tor of the Depart­ment of Ar­chi­tec­ture and De­sign at the mu­seum, says. “Our time is lived to­day in both the dig­i­tal and the phys­i­cal space.”

The mu­seum’s other dig­i­tal ac­qui­si­tions have in­cluded the “@” sym­bol and video games.

As to how a mu­seum ac­quires some­thing as ubiq­ui­tous as a key­board sym­bol or an emoji, An­tonelli noted de­sign works dif­fer­ently than art, which in many cases is unique — think of a paint­ing or a statue. Some de­sign el­e­ments, such as the “@” sym­bol, are in the public do­main, which means any­one can use them and the mu­seum can sim­ply dis­play them.

The mu­seum will show the emo­jis in its lobby through the year, using 2-D graph­ics and an­i­ma­tions, and con­nect­ing the old emo­jis with the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion.

To­day, the Uni­code Con­sor­tium rec­og­nizes nearly 1,800 emo­jis. There’s wine, a baby bot­tle, a danc­ing woman in a red dress, and, of course, poop. There have been emoji-con­tro­ver­sies, such as Ap­ple’s de­ci­sion to re­place the gun sym­bol with a bright green toy pis­tol.

The hu­man faces in emoji have grown more racially di­verse in re­cent years, and over the sum­mer 11 new emo­jis were added rep­re­sent­ing fe­male pro­fes­sion­als, round­ing out their male coun­ter­parts, thanks to a pro­posal from Google.

New emo­jis are added reg­u­larly, and con­tinue to evolve

Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in New York.

and re­flect times.

“(Emo­jis) as a con­cept go back in the cen­turies, to ideograms, hi­ero­glyph­ics and other graphic char­ac­ters, our chang­ing en­abling us to draw this beau­ti­ful arch that cov­ers all of hu­man his­tory,” An­tonelli says. “There is noth­ing more mod­ern than time­less con­cepts such as these.”


A set of 176 orig­i­nal emoji char­ac­ters has been do­nated to the

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